Stewardship of Treasure


Stewardship of Treasure

Stewardship of Treasure

This blog series has been dedicated to introducing you to the concept of Stewardship. Stewardship takes on many forms: time, family, faith, talent, prayer and, finally, treasure. In the last post, I described stewardship as it relates to prayer. In this post, I would like to introduce you to the concept of Stewardship as it relates to treasure.

Most people don’t like to talk about money. I remember my parents squirming in the pews when I was a kid as the priest talked about needing to extend an existing building. Not quite what they wanted to hear! But over the past several years and, especially shortly after my mom died four years ago, I have received greater revelation of what my perspective is as it relates to the Stewardship of treasure.

This revelation is not really all that complicated. It’s simply that none of our stuff is ours — it belongs to God. Once you get that, the rest is peripheral! After my mom passed, I felt a strong sense of her presence in spirit, her warm embrace and her guiding heart. When my father was liquidating her earthly treasures, I respectfully declined taking anything. Nothing really meant anything to me. It was her spirit, her life song, her memory that I cherished.

I think that’s all God cares about. He cares about our devotion to Him, our release of earthly treasure, and our focus on HIM.

Over the past few years, my leanings toward materialism have declined considerably and I find myself much happier. Don’t get me wrong — I still like my iPhone and I’m tapping away on my MacBook right now, but I consider these tools, not treasures.

With this concept in hand, that God owns everything and none of it is ours, I don’t feel so compelled to die after having accumulated the most I can. I want to die doing the most for HIM, not myself. This does not mean that prosperity is bad, that wealth is dirty—remember it is not money that is the root of all evil, but the love of  money. It also does not mean that success should be shunned. It just means that, if it occurs, it is an outcome, not the goal.

I do believe it is Biblical to tithe. I also believe a joyful giver is a joyful recipient of all that God has to offer. 

I could go into all the Biblical references that support tithing, but I am sure that there are some who could show what they believe to be Biblical facts against it. As for me, I support it. I have been blessed to have heard a message from the pastor, David Ashcraft,  at my church home LCBC, who describes the 10-10-80 plan. David explains that a great way to manage your finances is to tithe 10%, save 10% and spend 80% on your living expenses. It makes much sense and is especially easy to remember and follow.

This wraps up this series and this posting. We would love to hear your comments on Stewardship of Treasure. This is always a topic that sparks a lot of interest and debate. The community values all opinions.


Stewardship of Faith


Stewardship of Faith 

This blog series has been dedicated to introducing you to the concept of Stewardship.

Stewardship takes on many forms: time, family, faith, talent, prayer and, finally, treasure. In the last post, I described Stewardship as it relates to prayer. In this post, I would like to introduce you to the concept of Stewardship as it relates to faith.

It has been my experience that many people are just too afraid or uncomfortable to talk about their faith.  I can empathize. I, myself, was caught up for many years, struggling to talk about faith and my difficulties with the tenets of Catholicism with anyone.  I was, perhaps, conditioned not to question authority, but instead to accept what was told to me blindly as truth.

 I was a coward and did not pursue a relationship with Christ.

When I look back at my cowardliness, I am relieved that, at some point, I made a turn toward the truth.  That point was when I heard for the first time the clarity of the salvation message from Pastor Powell at NorthRidge Church.  Many devout Christians will argue that it was not the pastor speaking, but the Holy Spirit. I agree that the Holy Spirit does, in fact, breathe life into those who are ready to receive.  Sometimes though, we are not ready to receive for many years, and sometimes, because of our upbringing, it is much sooner.  There really is no recipe for success; it is a God thing, a preordained date and time that you will become a faithful servant of Jesus.

“15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:15 – 16 (ESV)

Eternal Security 

I have learned in these past eighteen months that many denominations carry the same message, that acceptance of Christ as your Savior is your ticket to eternal security. What is my advice to those who seek faith?  Don’t confuse the message with what man has added to it.  Find Christ. Find a like-minded Bible believing Church that fits your personality and style of worship, connect in a life group of other Bible believers and serve in your community as an ambassador for Christ.  That, my friend, is being a Steward of your Faith.  Of course, these are my opinions.  And my opinion means nothing to the way you decide to be faithful.

“17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:17 (NIV)

What are you going to do to be a good Steward of your Faith?  Post a few notes here; we would love to know.


 

Stewardship of Prayer


Stewardship of Prayer

Stewardship of Prayer

This blog series has been dedicated to introducing you to the concept of Stewardship. Stewardship, as I have explained before, takes on many forms: time, family, faith, talent, prayer and treasure. In my last post, I described stewardship as it relates to talent. In this post, we will explore the concept of Stewardship as it relates to prayer.

When we devote time to prayer, we deepen our relationship with God and become better prepared to offer ourselves in service to God and others. Many people approach prayer as a tool to use only when they want or need something from God. The prayer often sounds like, “Lord, help me through this problem and I will do X, Y and/or Z for you.” This becomes somewhat transactional and is the way that I found myself praying in the past. When I took a deep look into the way in which I approached prayer, I realized that I was not humbling myself before God, but simply trying to process a business transaction.

  In reality, praying like this could be considered “Acts” Christianity or nothing more than quid pro quo, Latin for “this for that.”

The past several years have just been mind-numbing with change in our communities, our country and overseas as well. We have been bombarded with WikiLeaks, stock market ups and downs, record level unemployment, a housing crisis, threats from North Korea and Iran, and political turmoil in the USA.

However, as we navigate through all of this, we still find one part of our lives that has remained constant —God’s love for us. Regardless of issues we face or turmoil we navigate, we all have been blessed with a God who loves us. We should also be grateful to God that we have shelter, food, and clean water to drink. In addition, we have family and coworkers who love us.

Another aspect of Prayer that I shamefully admit that I have only recently learned is the opportunity for us to do a self-reflection of what is in our heart. I mean, I had heard of the concept, and embraced it superficially, just lightly reflecting on it, but never really made it something that I was going after with tenacity and vigor.

I have had the blessing of being coached by some incredible prayer warriors who have instilled in me the importance of searching areas of my heart that I have yet to release to God. Places of sin, despair, worry and lack of faith. This takes time to do, and it is actually fairly upsetting when you consciously outline to yourself the areas you have left to let go to God. It’s not easy. It takes humility and the willingness to release any amount of control thinking, but it is the most rewarding and liberating aspect of being a fully devoted follower of Christ.

As we approach probably what will be increasingly greater times of difficulty, I know that I am going to concentrate on thanking God, hopefully more so in my prayers than asking God for a good deal. So, personally, over the next few months, these are a few thoughts I will be praying and reflecting on:

  • When I pray, do I thank God more than I ask God for a deal?
  • Do I reflect and give thanks before every meal, regardless of circumstance or location?
  • What can I do for God and the advancement of His Kingdom?
  • Do I believe that everything I have is a gift from God?
  • Is prayer simply a task on my schedule that can be postponed or canceled?
  • Am I willing to make a commitment to prioritize prayer?
  • Do I believe that prayer consists simply of words and phrases, or do I believe that it impacts my relationship with God?
  • Have I considered inviting friends or family to join me in prayer?

Therefore, my challenge for you is this: Do you know what you are thankful for? And are you willing to thank God for all He has done for us, even in the face of all the adversity we experience? What are you thankful for? We would love to know. Please share your thoughts here with our community of readers.

Stewardship of Talent


 

Stewardship of Talent

Stewardship of Talent 

This series has been focused on introducing you to the concept of Stewardship. Stewardship takes on many forms; time, family, faith, talent, prayer and treasure. In the previous post, I described stewardship as it relates to family. In this post, I will examine the concept of Stewardship as it relates to talent.

All of us are blessed with talents. These talents are what make each one of us unique, different from one another. It continues to amaze me as I grow older the stark uniqueness and individuality of all of us, regardless of our similarities in where and how we grew up, where we were educated or where we worship or work.

We clearly are so different from one another! 

I believe that our Talents are created by God and are so special that they were determined before we were even put on this earth. Because of this, I think it is important that if we were all created uniquely for a special purpose, that we respect and understand our unique Talents and differences.

Having worked in HR for over twenty years and having witnessed some of the most unimaginable demonstrations of lack of leadership, I believe the most damaging are those leaders who fail to appreciate the Talent differences among the people who work for them and the organizations they lead. God created artistic people and God created analytical people. Without the stark difference of the Talents offered by each, we would still be living in primitive conditions. We must recognize the Talents of others and make an effort to lift all Talents up, and not just some.

The most damaging act a leader can commit is one of diminishing one’s Talents not only directly to the person but to the person’s co-workers. Several years ago there was a highly talented, big-thinking, out of the box, strategic manager who was leading the accounting department for a company I served. This guy would have never been able to get the company to where it was without the Talents he was given by God. His lack of resources, people, and finances were made up for by his sheer devotion and imagination as to how to get more done with less, and make it work. Unfortunately, he fell victim to a new boss. This new boss came into the organization accustomed to having large amounts of staff, resources, and finances. He quickly dismissed anything the big thinker was doing, often ridiculing him in front of others and embarrassing him ruthlessly for weeks. Ultimately, the accounting executive was pushed to the side. To this day, I don’t think the new leader has any concept of what his lack of appreciation for Talent had done to the organization.

That organization had potential, but now it barely gets by and people hate working there. How do I know? The employees keep calling me asking for help to get out! 

My challenge to you, therefore, is to think deeply and consult with your loved ones on discovering what your Talents are. What Talents make you unique? Most important, how will you use these Talents within your family, your church, and your community?

My next challenge is for you to uncover what Talents your coworkers have. What makes them unique? How do they like to spend their time when they are not working?

As we continue to grow and prosper as the body of Christ, let us do so by understanding others and ourselves at a greater level, so we can rise above our differences and continue to build the Church for a better tomorrow.


Stewardship of Family


 

Stewardship of Family

Stewardship of Family

This column is dedicated to introducing you to the concept of Stewardship. Stewardship takes on many forms; Time, Family, Faith, Talent, Prayer and Treasure. In the previous post in this series, I described stewardship as it relates to our time. In this post, I would like to introduce you to the concept of Stewardship of Family.

As I researched this article, I came across St. Patrick’s Church in Largo, Florida, that outlines seven signs of a stewardship family. They are:

  1. time together
  2. family prayer
  3. respect
  4. worshiping together
  5. supporting one another
  6. shared responsibilities
  7. service to others

I would like to write about two of these areas, time together and supporting one another. The first one, time together, means just that, spending time together with no distractions, no cell phones, no TV and no Internet. It is hard to do with a culture so inundated with distractions, but it is important. I know one family with teens that has a “no texting” policy in their car. That way, the teens and their parents can have focused conversations, without distractions.

Time together can also be accomplished by volunteering in the community. What better way to demonstrate compassion than to help the elderly or the homeless together as a family? What is especially inspiring is when we hear stories of employees’ families who support other employees’ families in times of need. This is done not in a formal way, but out of concern for another employee’s situation.

Families helping families — what a wonderful way to share your family’s kindness.

The second area, supporting one another, can easily be accomplished by sharing household responsibilities. Shared responsibilities means that no job or household chore is restricted to parents or children. In order for a family to operate, it needs teamwork, which means that everyone pitches in, using their unique talents to help better the family. Children should not rely solely on the parents to do everything, and neither should parents rely solely on their children to carry the burdens of managing the household. It is so encouraging when we experience a family where each member feels it contributes to the good of the whole. A good example would be a family where the smaller children set the table, the teens help with dishes or cleaning, and the parents show their appreciation for this.

Living in Lancaster County has exposed me to the plain life of Amish and Mennonite people. When you spend time with a plain family, you quickly realize that the family functions are interdependent, all the way down to the four- and five-year-olds. Each family member has responsibilities, chores, and oftentimes if a chore is missed, it could result in a late meal or spoiled crops!

One aspect of helping to be a good Steward of your family is to instill a motto, a word, or a saying that can help guide the family though difficult times. A few years ago we had a series at church that was based solely on the word, “Others.” The organization of this series stemmed from one family’s experience with the word. You see, this word was so important for one family; it was the one word that was passed on to each new generation. In my family I use the three words, “God, Family, Education,” to try to keep us focused on what is important.

In closing, it is important to note that families almost always default to stewardship behavior because it is natural behavior, and most family members want to support each other. It is important to know how your family relates to these forms of Family Stewardship and in what areas your family is strong and what areas need work.

Please take some time thinking and discussing this with your family, for we only have one life to share with each other.

It is important that we all feel we contribute together with uplifting attitudes and, most important, with purpose and good intentions for our families.

Please help our community of readers by sharing experiences that you have had in your attempt to be a good Steward of your family. We appreciate your comments.

Stewardship of Time


 

Stewardship of Time

Stewardship of Time

In the previous post of this series, I introduced the concept of Stewardship. Stewardship takes on many forms; Time, Faith, Talent, Family, Prayer, and Treasure. Today, I would like to shed some light on Time. We all lead busy lives, whether we are driving our children to events, helping our family members with chores and child rearing, or just managing our daily commitments. We never seem to have enough Time.

Many of us fall victim to not having Time to help others. A perfect example of this was when, a few years ago, a colleague of mine at a company where I was leading HR, told me of a similar dilemma she had faced. She was an administrative employee who worked in a very rural area of our country. She shared with me some of her volunteering experiences.

A little over ten years ago, she began volunteering her Time at a local Muscular Dystrophy (MD) Foundation fundraiser. Not long after, her friend’s child was diagnosed with an MD-related disease. This was a turning point for her. She had to decide whether to go about her life every day without doing something to help others, or she could choose to make an impact on our world by helping others, by giving something back to the community. That day, she made the decision to donate her Time in a big way to the MD Foundation and has spent countless hours doing so since then. This young lady did not stop with the giving of her Time. When she saw that men and women of the armed services stationed overseas needed help from people back at home, she helped spearhead a grass roots program called, “Thanks to our Yanks.” She drove the effort to ensure that all money collected for this program through fundraising events went directly to providing personalized care packages for the troops, versus administrative fees from other organizations. Today, this program has provided over four hundred care packages to about fifty service men and woman in Mercer County, Ohio.

Wow, one young lady in the middle of a cornfield making a very real difference! My question to you, dear Christian business leader, is: Do you initiate and encourage this type of behavior? Do you foster a workplace that builds up your community? If you do, you are helping to build a “Kingdom Minded” organization.

I am going to challenge you further today to think deeply about what you have chosen to do with your Time in the community in which you live. What type of volunteering do you do? What organizations receive your time? I can tell you that, before I was saved, I did nothing. Then I grew in my faith and started to do more for others. Now, as I write this, I know I am taking myself even further to get other Christians motivated to ratchet it up, not only in themselves but in their companies!

We would love to hear from you on what it is you are doing to build a “Kingdom Minded” organization. This is a great time for you to tell us about what you do, or a time to reflect about what you could do in the future. Please feel free to comment on this topic.

Christian Stewardship Series


 

Christian Stewardship Series

Christian Stewardship
Having been exposed to the concept of Stewardship several years ago, I have set out to define the concept from my unique experiences and perspective. I cannot take credit for the concept of Stewardship as it relates to Christianity. Although I have never been able to confirm with certainty, I believe this concept of Stewardship actually originated in the Catholic Church. However, many other denominations, including Evangelicals, have begun embracing the multifaceted concept of Stewardship. I personally like it. Not from an “easy rules to follow” standpoint, but as a nice neat package of a variety of ways we can give back to others. When I say “give back to others,” I say it because, when you think about it, it all really should be about others: our neighbors, our coworkers, the people we lead, and our families. But also let’s remember Matthew 25:40.

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’  (New International Version, ©2011)

In this series, I would like to shed some light on the area of Stewardship. Oftentimes when people think of Stewardship, they think of finances and the giving of their finances. This is a common misconception. Stewardship takes on many forms. The following are other examples: Time, Faith, Talent, Family, Prayer, and, finally, Treasure, which many people also interpret as finances. As Christians, we often forget how we might impact not only our coworkers, but also the communities in which we live, work and do business. In this blog series, I will be exploring the concept of Stewardship and what and how it may apply to Christ followers.

I hope you will follow along on this journey with me. You may learn a lot about yourself. I know I have.